Secret Anniversaries

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NY 1990 Hardcover 1st Edition New in New jacket Book. 12mo-over 6?-7?" tall. This is a New and Unread copy of the first edition (1st printing). In a mylar jacket cvoer.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Taking its title from Longfellow (``the secret anniversaries of the heart'') Spencer's ( Endless Love ) new novel is an ambitious attempt to record a young woman's emotional, intellectual and moral awakening through vignettes illuminating her milestone experiences. Caitlin Van Fleet's life--quiet and obscure in itself--intersects with some of the significant events and personalities of the WW II years. Brought up on the estate of WASP gentry in upstate New York, where her father is the caretaker and her mother a maid, she goes to Washington to work for a senator who has close links with Father Coughlin, the German-American Bund and others with pro-Nazi sympathies. Bright but unsophisticated, Caitlin only gradually realizes the moral repugnance of the America First propaganda, through the efforts of earnest undercover reporter Joe Rose. At the end of her life she is proud of ``the strange path I've taken''--a life that has included both a passionate lesbian affair and a short heterosexual liaison that results in a child she decides to raise alone. While intrinsically interesting, the novel is marred by Spencer's decision to tell the story in abruptly shifting unchronological segments, a device that seems forced, and that prevents the novel from acquiring the dramatic momentum a straightforward account might have provided. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Caitlin Van Fleet is the last in a long line of a Hudson River servant family tending the wealthy modern-day pseudo-patroons. Her bold behavior with the landlord's son results in happy expulsion from home straight to pre-wartime Washington. Though bright and pretty, Caitlin is also unsophisticated and naive enough to fall for Betty Sinclair, glamorous administrative assistant to the pro-German congressman for whom they both work. To tell Caitlan's story, the author singles out 11 important days (in irritating nonchronological fashion) in her 65 years or so of life. Spencer's ( Endless Love) focus is diffuse as he attempts to portray the antiwar effort of the German-American community while telling a life story at the same time. The format just doesn't work, leaving the story without focus. This seems more of a writing exercise than a novel. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/89.-- Marion Hanscom, SUNY at Binghamton Lib.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394578170
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/5/1990
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 257

Meet the Author

Scott Spencer
Scott Spencer once defined a novelist as "someone who sits around in his underwear all day, trying not to smoke." For Spencer, not smoking has been a productive occupation, with his novels Endless Love and A Ship Made of Paper both selected as contenders for the National Book Award.

Biography

Scott Spencer once defined a novelist as "someone who sits around in his underwear all day, trying not to smoke." For Spencer, not smoking has been a productive occupation. His best-known novel, Endless Love, sold more than 2 million copies and has been translated into 20 languages. The story of teenage love and obsession has drawn high praise from other novelists, including Anne Tyler and Michael Ondaatje. Joyce Carol Oates wrote, "No description of Endless Love can do justice to the rich, startling and always intelligent tenor of [Spencer's] prose."

Less fortunately for Spencer, Endless Love also attracted the attention of Franco Zeffirelli, who directed a disastrous Brooke Shields vehicle based on the book (the 1981 movie periodically turns up on critics' lists of the worst movies of all time). But while Endless Love was, as Jonathan Lethem opined in Salon, a good book overshadowed by a bad movie, Spencer's next novel, about a political candidate haunted by the memory of his late fiancée, got an actual boost from Hollywood. After Keith Gordon filmed Waking the Dead in 1999 with Billy Crudup and Jennifer Connelly in the lead roles, the book was reissued, gaining thousands of new readers. As Spencer notes in an interview on his publisher's web site, "The best thing about having a movie made of your novel is that more people read the book."

Spencer published several books between the first edition of Waking the Dead and its reissue, including Men in Black, the tale of a literary novelist whose pseudonymous hackwork earns him sudden fame and fortune, and The Rich Man's Table, the fictional memoir of a Dylan-like folk singer's illegitimate son. The Los Angeles Times Book Review called Men in Black "the Cadillac of novels -- every word vibrating with a kind of shameless big-boned American grace."

With his recent novel A Ship Made of Paper, Spencer returns to his earlier themes: romantic obsession and overpowering desire. "What makes this brave, dazzling novel so impossible to put down is the urgency with which it makes you care about what happens to its characters: male and female, black and white, young and old," wrote Francine Prose. "Scott Spencer has a genius for observing dramatic everyday moments when the self crashes into the barriers of class and race and culture, together with infinite compassion for the wayward impulse that turns human beings into fanatics willing to sacrifice everything on the altar of romantic love."

Critics have credited Spencer with an ambitious prose style and a keen grasp of contemporary culture, but what distinguishes his work most is his ability to tap into the intense currents of emotion beneath the surface of domestic life. As New York magazine noted, "In a literary age marked by cool, cerebral fiction, Spencer writes from the heart."

Good To Know

In our interview, Spencer revealed his love for all types of music. "My daughter, son, and I are always making mix tapes for each other, sharing the music we love," Spencer shares. "I have no musical talent, but music is a part of nearly every day. I still love the music I grew up with -- from Elvis to Motown to Otis Redding -- but as I grow older I find more and more music to love. I have major CD storage issues."

Spencer has taught fiction writing at Columbia University and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has written for The New York Times, Esquire, The Nation, GQ, and Rolling Stone, among other publications.

The film version of Endless Love, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, was (as TV Guide put it) "a notorious disaster," but it marked the film debut of three future stars: Tom Cruise, James Spader, and Jami Gertz. The movie's theme song won Lionel Ritchie an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.

A Ship Made of Paper is the fourth novel of Spencer's that uses Leyden, New York as a backdrop.

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    1. Hometown:
      Rhinebeck, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 1, 1945
    2. Place of Birth:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Education:
      B. A., University of Wisconsin, 1969

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